Book excerpts Acarya Kesari Part 3: Sri Gaudiya-patrika, Sri Ayodhya-dhama, Naimisaranya parikrama and Urja-vrata

Part 3: Sri Gaudiya-patrika, Sri Ayodhya-dhama, Naimisaranya parikrama and Urja-vrata

The self-manifestation of Sri Gaudiya-patrika on the occasion of Sri Navadvipa-dhama parikrama and Sri Gaura-janmotsava

In March 1949, the parikrama and Sri Gaura-janmotsava were celebrated with great festivities at Sri Devananda Gaudiya Matha in Navadvipa. On Gaura-purnima day, Sri Gaudiya-patrika, the transcendental monthly magazine of Sri Gaudiya Vedanta Samiti, manifested itself. On the masthead of the front cover of this first issue, the name of Sri Patrika was written above a mrdanga and karatalas, surrounded by a lotus, club, conch shell and disc. Below this was a picture of Srila Sarasvati Prabhupada.

The founder and editor-in-chief (niyamaka) of Sri Patrika was parivrajakacarya tridandi-svami Srimad Bhakti Prajnana Kesava Maharaja, the editor was Sri Mahananda Brahmacari Bhakti-sastri Bhaktyaloka, and the Patrika preaching managers were tridandi-svami Srimad Bhakti Kusala Narasimha Maharaja and pandita Srimad Jagannatha-ballabha Babaji Maharaja. The contributing editors were mahopadesaka pandita Sripada Narottamananda Brahmacari Bhakti-kamala Bhakti-sastri, pandita Sriyuta Nama-vaikuntha dasa Adhikari, pandita Sriyuta Radhanatha dasa Adhikari and pandita Sriyuta Gaura-narayana dasa Adhikari [the author]. The office manager was pandita Krsna-karunya Brahmacari Bhakti-mandapa. The magazine was published by Sri Uddharana Gaudiya Matha, Caumatha, Chunchura (Hoogly) by Sri Sajjana-sevaka Brahmacari and printed by Santi Press. The auspicious invocation (mangalacarana) of Sri Patrika contained prayers to Sri Hari, Guru and Vaisnavas.

The essay Viraha-mangalya (Auspiciousness of Separation) was written with a desire to attain the svarasiki-seva, the natural rasa-filled service inherent to one’s svarupa, of Sri Sri Radha-Vinoda-bihari, under the guidance of vipralambha-rasa-maya vigraha Sri Sriman Mahaprabhu, the embodiment of one saturated with the rich moods of separation, along with the eternally liberated, most munificent paramahamsas who are immersed in His moods. In addition, the magazine included philosophical dissertations by jagad-guru Srila Prabhupada, Sri Bhaktivinoda Thakura, an article about Sri Gaudiya-patrika and Srila Gurudeva’s article entitled Sri Gaudiya Vedantacarya Sri Baladeva Vidyabhusana. There were many other essays which enhanced the splendour of Sri Patrika, having been well researched and containing an explanation of prema-bhakti. The first issue was dedicated at the lotus feet of Sri Nrsimhadeva, the destroyer of all obstacles, whose temple in Devapalli was visited on the first day of the Sri Dhama parikrama, and it was placed in the lotus hands of Srila Prabhupada in his samadhi-mandira in Sri Dhama Mayapura, when the pilgrims visited it on the last day of the parikrama. The Vaisnavas enthusiastically began to sign up for a yearly subscription of the Patrika.

Sri Ayodhya-dhama, Naimisaranya parikrama and urja-vrata

In April 1949, Sri Gaudiya Vedanta Samiti’s founder and president, parivrajakacarya tridandi-svami Srimad Bhakti Prajnana Kesava Gosvami Maharaja, was invited to Sri Gauranga Matha in Kesiyadi in the district of Medinipura by the matha’s founder and president, tridandi-svami Srimad Bhakti Kumuda Santa Maharaja. Srila Gurudeva accepted the invitation and went with many of his associates. Srimad Bhakti Sarvasva Giri Maharaja, Srimad Bhakti Gaurava Vaikhanasa Maharaja and other sannyasis, brahmacaris and grhastha Vaisnavas were also present. Srila Gurudeva then returned to Sri Uddharana Gaudiya Matha in Chunchura and celebrated Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura’s disappearance day and the ratha-yatra festival with great pomp and splendour.

Later that year, in the month of Kartika, Srila Gurudeva organized a parikrama to Sri Ayodhya and Naimisaranya. There, urja-vrata niyama-seva was observed. The pilgrims carried the deity of Sriman Mahaprabhu on the parikrama, and they stopped at Ayodhya’s famous Laksmana-kila (Laksmana’s fort). This is a charming place on the banks of the sacred river Sarayu, which even today reveals ancient traditions. Srila Gurudeva, who was managing the entire parikrama, lectured on the glories of the dhama. Mahopadesaka Sripada Narottamananda Brahmacari Bhakti-sastri Bhakti-kamala Prabhu attracted an audience to hear the hari-katha by using black-and-white slides to illustrate his Srimad-Bhagavatam lectures. Under Srila Gurudeva’s guidance, the pilgrims took darsana of Sri Ramacandraji’s birthplace, Sri Rama-darbara, Kanaka-bhavana, Hanumana-gadhi, Dvadasa Mandira, Valmiki-bhavana, Darsanesvarnatha Siva, Papamocana-ghata, Svargadvara, Nagesvara Mahadeva, Brahma-ghata, Sri Surya-kunda, Goptara-ghata and other famous places in Ayodhya-dhama.

After staying twenty days in Ayodhya, the parikrama party went to Naimisaranya via Balamu Junction. Upon entering Naimisaranya, they walked in a grand procession accompanied by sankirtana to Paramahamsa Gaudiya Matha, which had been established by Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Prabhupada. Afterwards they went to a large, local dharmasala where their residence had been arranged.

At the dharmasala, Srila Gurudeva read from Mahaprabhu’s teachings to Sri Sanatana Gosvami in Sri Caitanya-caritamrta. He explained that it is detrimental for an unqualified person to perform bhajana in a secluded place, for unless the sadhaka has the association of a superior tattva-darsi Vaisnava (a self-realized soul), the name uttered in solitary bhajana is always full of offences. Lack of pure association also makes one unable to understand the nature of suddha-bhakti. Bhajana in the association of elevated Vaisnavas is actually real solitary bhajana. “Bhaktis tu bhagavad-bhakta-sangena parijayate – one attains pure krsna-bhakti by the elevated association of a pure Vaisnava” (Brhan-naradiya Purana 4.33).

Neither a gosthanandi, a devotee who preaches, nor a viviktanandi (bhajananandi), a devotee who engages exclusively in hearing and chanting, performs solitary bhajana. This is because even though the viviktanandi performs solitary bhajana, he assists in the gosthanandi’s preaching of sri nama-prema by nourishing a favourable mood.

Sriman Mahaprabhu’s instructions to restore lost places of pilgrimage, to establish deity worship, to compose bhakti literature and to preach nama-prema are not only for Sri Sanatana Gosvami; rather, they are clear directions for all bhakti-sadhakas. Therefore, Sri Rupa Gosvami, Sri Sanatana Gosvami and other elevated Vaisnavas would meet together to discuss how to accomplish these tasks. Nowadays, many sadhakas with weak faith imitate solitary bhajana, but they soon stray from the path and fall down from the realm of bhajana.

At Sri Vyasa-gaddi in Naimisaranya, Srila Guru Maharaja gave a profound lecture which delved deeply into bhagavat-tattva. He explained this tattva directly and indirectly as he described the bhagavata guru-parampara and the glories of Sri Krsna Dvaipayana Vedavyasa. Srimad-Bhagavatam, Srila Vedavyasa’s foremost literary composition, is the actual commentary on the Brahma-sutra, the conclusion of Mahabharata, the commentary on gayatri, and the ripened, nectarean fruit of the Veda, which is like a desire tree. One who has already tasted this nectar can never become attracted to any other scripture. This treatise contains astonishing solutions to all problems pertaining to all people, in all countries, throughout all time. Srila Vyasadeva entered into samadhi through bhakti-yoga, and in his pure heart he realized the Srimad-Bhagavatam. It is not just a book, but rather it is Sri Krsna’s literary incarnation.

In Naimisaranya the pilgrims took darsana of Brahma-kunda, Gangotri, Dasasvamedha-ghata, Gomati Ganga, Yajnavaraha-kupa, Sri Laksmi-Nrsimhadeva, Cakra-tirtha and other places. In Misrika-tirtha they took darsana of Sita-kunda, Valmiki-asrama, the place were Sita-devi entered Patala, Dadhici Muni’s asrama and other places. When the niyama-seva kartika-vrata was completed, the pilgrims returned to their homes.

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